The darkest shows you'll find on Netflix

Netflix is an amazing repository of insanity, weirdness, and human suffering. Oh, don't get us wrong, it's also incredibly entertaining. But between their original shows and the decades worth of classic series available to binge watch, let's just say that the dark corners of Netflix are truly dark indeed. So what are the weirdest, darkest shows on Netflix? Hey, glad you asked…

Stranger Things

The first season of Stranger Things took the world by storm when it hit Netflix in 2016. The moody atmosphere, nostalgic '80s vibe, and rockstar performances (bandwagon shoutout to Winona Ryder, who disappears in that role. She's a ghost in that role, man), resonated with fans so well, the show was immediately picked up for a second season.

And we get it, you've heard the hype over and over again — but this is one of those rare, once-in-a-decade shows that deserves every bit of water-cooler praise. If you haven't dropped an evening on Stranger Things yet, give it a shot. If you have seen it, then it only gets better with a second viewing, if for nothing else than a rousing game of spot-the-reference.

The OA

One of Netflix's more recent exclusive releases, The OA is a sci-fi mystery thriller that starts with a bang and just keeps on rolling. Playing out like the crossroads between Stranger Things, The 4400, and another hidden Netflix gem, Awake, The OA keeps things low-key, ramping up the intensity with each consecutive episode. But where The OA really excels is in its deft blending of genres, serving up healthy portions of sci-fi, fantasy, Hitchcockian mystery, and plain, hair-tearing questions, the kind that keep you hooked until the final episode.

Unfortunately, we can't tell you much about the plot — it's just one of those shows where knowing what happens makes or breaks it. Do yourself a favor and queue it up, then sit back and enjoy the ride.

American Horror Story

There's an idea out there that if it's mainstream, it can't really be true horror. And then there's American Horror Story, which totally and thoroughly disproves this forever. Yeah, it's been getting tons of media hype over the past few years, and has won four Primetime Emmys and two Golden Globes. But you know what? That's because it totally earned all the accolades and attention by being the creepiest and best horror show on television since, well, maybe ever. If you haven't watched it yet, take it from us: until you do, you really ain't seen nothing yet.

Making a Murderer

There's fictional darkness, and then there's that special kind of darkness that only happens when the story being told is all too true. The ten-part documentary series Making a Murderer follows the true story of Steven Avery, a man who was wrongly convicted of sexual assault and attempted murder and spent 18 years in jail before being exonerated. He wasn't free long, though, before he was again arrested and sent to prison for murder. But did he actually do it? Or has justice failed everyone a second time? Some horror stories are too scary to be fictional.

Black Mirror

The sci-fi/horror anthology Black Mirror is the spiritual successor to The Twilight Zone, only with modern stories, sensibilities, and effects. Originally debuting on England's Channel 4, it recently moved to Netflix for the upcoming third season, making this the perfect time to catch up on everything you missed over the first two seasons. What you've missed, by the way, is one of the best and most acclaimed shows on TV, with an amazing cast that includes the likes of Jon Hamm, Hayley Atwell, Domhnall Gleeson, Rupert Everett, and Rafe Spall. There's nothing like it on television.

Jessica Jones

It may take place in the same four-color world as Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, but Jessica Jones is a universe apart in style and substance. A dizzying descent into manipulation and abuse, both physical and emotional, Jessica Jones pushes the boundaries not just of superhero television, but of television period. It's a knife cutting straight into the black heart of society's rape culture and exposing the darkness within the recesses of even the purest souls. It's a trigger warning with an itchy finger, so watch at your own peril.

Attack on Titan

Either you dig anime or you don't. That's cool. It's the way of things. But for every metalhead who's found himself grooving to a Nas track, and for every Hell's Angel who secretly wiped away a tear at the end of Love Actually, there's always someone who scoffed at Dragonball Z, then tripped into an anime show that they came away loving.

That show is usually Attack on Titan. The story of the last human survivors living inside a walled city to protect themselves from enormous, human-eating giants, Attack on Titan is a smorgasbord of rich visuals, explosive action (swords and jetpacks!), and some super-seriously dark themes. The downside? The episodes are so short (20 minutes), you find yourself clicking to the next one without thinking about it, and eventually you realize you've wasted a whole day, you're starving, and somewhere in the house there's a baby crying. Did you even have a baby before you started watching the show? Those freaking cliffhangers!

Dexter

Before Daredevil and Luke Cage rocked our Netflix queues, before American Horror Story let us revel in mainstream gore, there was Dexter — the original blood-splattered, serial-killing antihero and lovable goof. Starring Michael C. Hall as the affable maniac, Dexter premiered in 2006 and ran for eight solid seasons of well-meaning slaughter. It's darkly funny and hauntingly uncomfortable at the same time, a surgical hurricane that socks you in the gut and makes you beg for more.

The hook that snagged us for good: Dexter's practical concerns about the safety of eating while driving … while he drives down the road to kill someone. That's just poetry.

The Returned

No, no, not the tepid American remake. The original French horror series The Returned, also known as Les Revenants, is the one to watch. But this doesn't have anything to do with Leonardo DiCaprio being eaten by a bear. It's actually much worse than that, as a number of dead people mysteriously return to life with no idea how or why. And then things start getting really creepy. Check it out, but don't worry about the subtitles; focusing on reading might be the only way to keep calm once the real terror begins.

Twin Peaks

Finally, you just can't have a list of the weirdest and darkest shows on Netflix without a shout out to the granddaddy of weird television, David Lynch's epic masterpiece Twin Peaks. We'd tell you what it's about, but after more than a quarter century studying it, we still have no idea whatsoever. Suffice it to say that major characters include a dead woman, a psychic log, and a mysterious spirit dwarf. Imagine American Horror Story with the craziness ratcheted up a hundred more notches and you'll start to get an idea what Twin Peaks is like. But the only way to truly know is to experience it yourself. What are you waiting for?

Hemlock Grove

Executive produced by horror master Eli Roth and based on the hit novel of the same name by Brian McGreevy, Hemlock Grove is an original Netflix series that delves into one small town's dark secrets. Turns out it's almost harder to keep those secrets buried than it is to keep the bodies buried, as both the revelations and the corpses begin to pile up. Oh, and there are werewolves. Yeah. Imagine True Detective crossed with H.P. Lovecraft and you'll start to get an idea of the show's tone.

Sense8

Not many people realize that Netflix had a collaboration between Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski and The Matrix masterminds Andy and Lana Wachowski. Not only is the show real, but you can binge watch it right now. Sense8 follows the story of eight people around the globe who suddenly develop a psychic link that allows them to tap into each other's knowledge, skills, and emotions. It's weird, crazy stuff—exactly what you'd expect from people who always deliver the unexpected.

The Fall

Biblical fact: Gillian Anderson can do no wrong. Between The X-Files, Hannibal, and American Gods, the woman is a force of nature, and one we wouldn't mind getting to know personally. And with that kind of line-up, you'd be forgiven for missing her in The Fall, yet another notch on Anderson's slim, gold-plated, Emmy-buckled belt. Are we hero worshiping? We're hero worshiping. Sorry about that.

The fact is, while Gillian Anderson is great in The Fall, it's Jamie Dornan who brings the show home as serial killer Paul Spector. If you're itching for another lightning-paced, hard-hitting crime thriller to fill the hours waiting for another (good) season of True Detective, look no further than The Fall.

Dark

Netflix's first original German-language show, Dark is the supernatural time-travel crime mystery series you didn't realize you were missing. Set in the dreary town of Winden, Germany, it sees the lives and relationships of four families thrown into disarray following the disappearance of two young children. Things get weird, and, through events that are best left unspoiled, the characters are thrust into a compellingly cryptic and creepy mystery that casts them across different time periods, including the 1980s. Think the demented lovechild of Twin Peaks, True Detective, and Lost, and you're about halfway there. This is a world of dark forests and dead birds and ugly secrets, where the skies are perpetually gray and the rain always pours.

If Dark brings to mind another horror-tinged, '80s-set Netflix original about children gone missing under supernatural circumstances, you're not wrong, but it's a comparison that only runs so deep. Where Stranger Things indulged heavily in period nostalgia and a healthy dose of teen and tween angst and camaraderie, Dark is a much drearier, weirder, and darker beast. It's a world steeped in personal tragedy and moral decay, and the ominous atmosphere is downright oppressive at times. But you know, in a good way.

Mindhunter

David Fincher and serial killers go together like glitter and unicorns, and with Mindhunter he delves deeper than ever before into those murky depths and the tortured psyches that populate them. Created by Joe Penhall and based on a true crime book by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker, this Netflix exclusive charts the early days of the FBI's forays into the psychological profiling of serial killers (or "sequence killers," as they they were referred to at the time), and the origins of the behavioral science unit that pioneered these methods.

Mindhunter's most chilling moments come about during dramatizations of real interviews conducted with prominent serial killers of the time, with dialogue adapted directly from actual recordings. The highlight among these is Cameron Britton's Edmund Kemper, who instills such a potent sense of creepy, articulate horror in his portrayal that you'll probably find yourself afraid to Google the real guy afterward. It's unsettling, fascinating stuff made all the more repulsive by the manner in which it resists embellishment and sensationalism, and the moody, obsessive, impeccably crafted stylings of David Fincher (who directed four episodes and executive-produced the show) can be felt throughout. It takes a minute to find its feet, but stick with it. If you like your darkness and gloom served cold, calculated, and painstakingly fact-checked, this is the show for you.

The Keepers

Like 2015's Making a Murderer, The Keepers focuses on an unsolved murder from the past (that of schoolteacher and nun Cathy Cesnik in 1969), it uncovers hidden truths and heinous injustices, and it provides a window into the lives of the real human beings caught up in it all. But The Keepers' concerns and implications are more far-reaching, more complex, and in many ways much graver. It's a more polished and accomplished work than Making a Murderer, and will it make you feel just as angry.

At first detailing the amateur investigation into the murder by two of Cesnik's former students, now in their 60s, Ryan White's seven-part series ends up peeling back layers of institutional corruption and unearthing years of systemic child sex abuse at the hands of a Baltimore reverend and other members of the clergy. Prepare to lose another large swathe of faith in institutional authority with this one and dive in. It is harrowing, horrifying, and essential viewing.

Ozark

Firmly planted somewhere between Breaking Bad's blood-soaked quirk and Bloodline's brooding sense of inevitable doom, Ozark is one big seedy ball of stress and gloom. Best known for his role on beloved sitcom Arrested Development, Jason Bateman plays family man, financial adviser, and reluctant money launderer Marty Byrde, who moves from Chicago to backwoods Missouri with his wife, Wendy (Laura Linney), and their family when his dealings with a Mexican drug cartel go about like those things usually go — badly. Bateman is a long way from Michael Bluth here, and he's fantastic as the hapless sap who's increasingly out of his depth. He even produced the show and directed four episodes and is probably in desperate need of a hug right about now.

There's some wit sprinkled throughout and the characters and their relationships are always compelling, but Ozark is a brutal watch at times, and the supremely graphic depictions of violence are particularly jarring. But then you wouldn't be reading this if that wasn't right up your sick, twisted alley, would you?

Godless

Westerns have a varied and illustrious cinematic tradition that hasn't always been successfully replicated on television. There are exceptions, of course. Shows like Lonesome Dove and Deadwood remain distinct and immortal, but in recent times the creative verve of the pure Western has grown a little stagnant in the world of TV. Enter Scott Frank, writer of Logan, Minority Report, and Out of Sight, who created, wrote, and directed all seven episodes of this weird and wonderfully unique Netflix original. This ain't your daddy's Western.

Godless is set in the small mining town of La Belle in the 1880s, where nearly all the men have recently died in a huge mining accident. This is where a merciless gang of outlaws (led by Jeff Daniels) and the young gunslinger they're pursuing (Jack O'Connell) find themselves, a town now almost entirely made up of women, and things spiral spectacularly from there. This is a brutal, bloody, and refreshingly thoughtful new show that wrings every drop of blood, sweat, tears, and wagon grease it can from its novel premise. The cinematography is stunning, the shoot-outs are thrilling, and the performances are top-notch. What are you waiting for, partner?

Bojack Horseman

It's hard to explain exactly how an animated comedy about anthropomorphic animals living and working side-by-side with humans in a satirical acid-flashback version of L.A. could be so deeply sad and genuinely thought-provoking. You really just have to experience it for yourself.

Bojack (Will Arnett) is a washed-up alcoholic and former 1990s sitcom star who, after years of debauchery and irrelevance, tries to reclaim a place in contemporary popular culture. His rival is a Labrador (Paul F. Thompkins), his agent is a Persian cat (Amy Sedaris), and his roommate is a slacker human (Aaron Paul). The show is laugh-out-loud funny and delightfully weird, of course, but what truly sets it apart from the herd is this grim, introspective, and occasionally nihilistic edge that genuinely sneaks up on you. What at first appears to be a sharp and wacky send-up of celebrity culture and society at large ends up becoming one of the most raw, honest examinations of depression on television. This thing goes to some genuinely heavy places and it's not afraid to risk its main characters' likeability. Give it a few episodes to get going and see for yourself. For a horse, Bojack is actually achingly human.

Wormwood

Directed by renowned filmmaker Errol Morris, this six-part documentary series tells the story of Eric Olson's attempt to unearth the truth behind the death of his father, Frank, a CIA scientist who fell from a hotel window in 1953. The details of his death are submerged in a swamp of lies, conspiracy, and LSD, and Wormwood uses this as a springboard to explore a multitude of theories, each more far-fetched yet more worryingly plausible than the last. It examines the much larger scheme that emerges, while ultimately focusing on the toll the investigation has taken on the son and the promising life he squandered in search of truth and justice. You won't find answers here, but that makes it no less spellbinding.

However, it's the dramatizations that really set Wormwood apart and launch it well and truly into the realm of weird. These aim to recreate the last ten days in the life of Frank Olson (played by the magnificent Peter Sarsgaard) in a wholly unconventional way that recalls iconic conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s. We see the same events multiple times from different perspectives with differing details and implications, muddying the waters of what we can ascertain as truth and creating what amounts to a surreal, paranoid waking nightmare of a confused and confusing time in U.S. history. Morris' approach to the material is odd and this is far from your average murder mystery, but his formal indulgences are warranted. This is a trip you need to take, pronto.

13 Reasons Why

Your mileage may vary with this one. Based on the bestselling YA book by Jay Asher, 13 Reasons Why was something of a sensation when it dropped on Netflix in the early half of 2017, though not always for the right reasons. The series charts the story of Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) who inherits a box of cassette tapes from classmate Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) after she commits suicide. The tapes detail the reasons she did what she did, casting blame and threatening to destroy relationships in the process.

The show has been called dangerous by some, and condemned for romanticizing teen suicide. Netflix has even added additional content warnings to the show in response to the backlash. It's difficult to predict where any viewer might land on the issue. An irresponsible glorification or an honest, unflinching look at an important and difficult topic? It's undeniably well-made, emotionally raw, stylistically ambitious, and addictive as all get out. Just be sure to tread carefully.

Penny Dreadful

Artful Victorian horror is a difficult thing to get right, but you'd be hard pressed to find a more hearty stab at it than Showtime's Penny Dreadful. John Logan's series told a gloriously gruesome and macabre tale across three seasons, offering up genuinely effective frights, injecting new blood into classic characters (Frankenstein's monster, Dorian Grey, and Count Dracula among them), and looking dang good doing it.

But if there's one reason above all others to check out this sadly under-watched gem, it's the utterly captivating Eva Green. The whole ensemble is great but its her manic, disarmingly empathetic performance that single-handedly elevates the whole affair and allows it to aspire to something much more than just schlocky, well-lit chills. The bonkers (seriously, bonkers) seance scene from Season 1 alone should have cleared out the Emmys, if there was any justice in the world, and if the show doesn't have its hooks in you by that point it probably never will. Poor ratings led to an unceremoniously rushed and undeniably weak conclusion for the series, but still. This is a show that flies its freak flag high and proud, and it's well worth the rocky ride.

The Twilight Zone

Make way for the king! The sets are a little shaky, the effects are a little rubbery, and the stagey histrionics of the performances are probably an acquired taste now. But even decades after it first aired, The Twilight Zone has lost none of its resonance as a potent examination of the fear of the unknown, and the troubling ideas cooked up by Rod Serling and pals have only grown more disturbingly relevant as time has marched on. All these years later, The Twilight Zone is still in a class of its own in the world of weird.

Newer and shinier sci-fi anthology shows like Black Mirror and Electric Dreams might offer more intense thrills, more immediately recognizable technologies and modern production values, but The Twilight Zone perseveres and reigns supreme and continues to unsettle because of the sincere punch of Serling's moralizing, always grounding his fantastical stories in honest examinations of the human condition and reflecting the worst impulses innate in ourselves. This is a show that lives and breathes in any modern piece of sci-fi or horror that aspires to greatness, and there are impressively few duds across its 156 episodes. So open your mind, man, start humming that theme song, and take the plunge already.